Australians moving to London: 10 great alternative cities to live in overseas

For Australians, it's the classic working holiday: doing "the London thing", heading over to the British capital to live for a few years, to complain about the weather, to complain about the Tube, and to plan weekends away in sunnier locales.

The main problem with London, however, isn't the weather, it's that fact that it's an extremely expensive city, and one that can be difficult to get set up in – with work, and a bank account, and a place to live – for the first few months. So why not look further afield?

There are plenty of other cities in Europe – buzzing, fun, cosmopolitan cities – in which young Australians can live and work, and they're often far more affordable than London. Here, I've profiled 10 of the best, ordered by all-important factor of how much it costs to buy a beer there. (Prices have been sourced from pintprice.com. If you're interested, an average beer in London costs the equivalent of €4.46/$A7).

See also: The real cost of doing the 'London thing'

LISBON

What better way to get out of the pulling-pints-in-London rut than to head to Lisbon, Portugal's super-cool and largely tourist-free capital? While you'll need a decent command of Portuguese to land a "career" job in an office, or even on a building site, there's still plenty of work available for English teachers, bar and café staff, and au pairs within the city. And if you want to cast your eye further afield, the southern Algarve region has plenty of seasonal hospitality work over the warmer months.

Visa details: Australian citizens aged 18 to 30 are eligible for 12-month "work and holiday" visas (maximum 200 issued per year), though you won't be able to work for the same employer for more than six months. See www.consuladoportugalsidney.org.au

How much for a beer? €1.59

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BERLIN

Plenty of Australians seem to have wised up to the amazing opportunities that a working holiday in Berlin offers – you only have to trawl the cafes there and listen to the accents of the baristas to know that. Berlin is one of Europe's liveliest cities, a place with history, but also a thriving modern cultural scene; a cosmopolitan, welcoming city with great food, great beer, and great public transport to get you to the purveyors of all those good things. It's also extremely affordable to live there.

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Visa details: Australian citizens aged 18 to 30 are eligible for 12-month working holiday visas. Apply for a residence permit on arrival, or see www.canberra.diplo.de

How much for a beer? €2.73

BARCELONA

What's not to love about Barcelona? The city can sometimes feel like every young person in Europe has arrived there, with its cosmopolitan hordes of students, artists, chefs, musicians, bar staff, wait staff, and general drifters from across the continent. There's never a dull moment in this city by the sea. While a command of Spanish would be helpful when applying for jobs, it's not obligatory for hospitality positions in the tourist centres, and there's always work to be found teaching English, or as an au pair.  

Visa details: Australian citizens aged 18 to 30 are eligible for 12-month "work and holiday" visas (a maximum of 500 are issued per year), though you won't be able to work for the same employer for more than six months. See www.exteriores.gob.es

How much for a beer? €3.90

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EDINBURGH

Edinburgh could almost be described as the "thinking person's London". It has all of the perks that come with living in the British capital – the common language, the varying employment opportunities, the cultural touchstones – but in a city that's far more manageable in size, and also more affordable. While the weather is cold, Edinburgh is a city with a warm heart, and there's a sizeable Australian expat community there who have found work in all manner of professions.

Visa details: Australian citizens aged 18 to 30 are eligible for the two-year "Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa". See www.british-consulate.org

How much for a beer? €4.03

AMSTERDAM

Here are the pros of living and working in Amsterdam: language is never a problem, because everyone speaks English; the city is beautiful, and unique; and you're only a very short flight or train ride away from many of Europe's major hubs, despite living in a city you can comfortably ride a bike across in an hour or so. The cons? Well, it rains a lot. However, there's plenty of hospo work in Amsterdam, as well as opportunities in more professional careers where you can survive with English as your only language.

Visa details: Australian citizens aged 18 to 30 are eligible for 12-month working holiday visas. Applications can be made on arrival. See www.australia.nlembassy.org

How much for a beer? €4.38

See also: World's 20 most liveable cities 2016

IBIZA

Who needs the rainy streets of London when you can live and work in island paradise? And don't worry, you'll still meet your fair share of Poms if you score a job in "Eye-beefa", given its reputation as the party capital of Europe. Employment on any of the Spanish islands (Ibiza, Magaluf, Tenerife etc) is likely to come in the form of resort or bar work, and the availability is very seasonal, but this is still a viable option if you want to avoid the big cities of the mainland and have a little fun.

Visa details: Australian citizens aged 18 to 30 are eligible for 12-month work and holiday visas (maximum 500 per year), though you won't be able to work for the same employer for more than six months. See www.exteriores.gob.es

How much for a beer? €4.88

DUBLIN

Like Edinburgh, Dublin is a city that offers many of the perks of London, though first-time visitors might be disappointed to find that prices are similar to its English equivalent. If you can get over the fact that you're not in a paradise of bargains, however, Dublin is still one great place to live, a city that's bouncing back economically after a rough decade or so, where there's always a good time to be had in a pub, even if the weather outside isn't perfect. Thanks to RyanAir, Dublin is also well connected to the rest of Europe.

Visa details: Australian citizens aged 18 to 30 are eligible for a 12-month "Working Holiday Authorisation", though you'll only be able to work six months with any one employer. See www.dfa.ie

How much for a beer? €5.07

See: 20 reasons to visit Dublin

COPENHAGEN

There aren't many Australians who choose Denmark as their working-holiday destination, and with good reason: visa rules are restrictive, job opportunities are scarce for non-Danish-speakers, and this is one expensive country. However, if you can score work in Copenhagen – in a bar or café, for example, or as an au pair – you'll have time to get to know one of Europe's most livable cities, a charming place where most people speak English, and the only transport you'll ever need is a bike.

Visa details: Australian citizens aged 18 to 30 are eligible for 12-month working holiday visas, though they can only be employed for six of those 12 months, and for no longer than three months with one employer. See www.newtodenmark.dk

How much for a beer? €5.84

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PARIS

There are obstacles involved for those hoping to live and work in Paris. This is an expensive city where a command of French might not be compulsory, but it will certainly help when it comes to navigating some of the bureaucratic hurdles you'll inevitably face during the setting-up phase. Work, to begin with, will mostly come in the form of English teaching (get your TEFL qualification), or in bars, cafes or hostels. Paris is an amazing city to call home, but you'll have to put in the hard yards to be able to do so.

Visa details: Australian citizens aged 18 to 30 are eligible for 12-month working holiday visas. See www.ambafrance-au.org

How much for a beer? €6.72

PRAGUE

There's bad news, unfortunately, for Australians keen to experience working life in Prague: there's no reciprocal working holiday agreement between Australia and the Czech Republic, which means the only way to get in there is to be a Kiwi citizen, a Canadian citizen, an EU citizen, or to work a dodgy cash-in-hand job and overstay your tourist visa, which we would never approve of. It's a pity, because Prague is a vibrant, culture-rich and above all affordable city that offers plenty of Eastern Euro charm.

Visa details: 12-month working holiday visas are only available to New Zealand and Canadian citizens. See www.mzv.cz/sydney

How much for a beer? €1.15

See: 20 reasons to visit Prague

NO FIXED ABODE

There's a working-holiday option for those who don't fancy being tied down in one destination: work as road crew for a European tour company. The likes of Topdeck, Contiki and Busabout are always on the lookout for tour leaders, bus drivers, and even on-site cooks and bartenders. Those who are chosen will get to see Europe over and over again, and get paid for it. The main restriction to consider is that on-site staff and bus drivers require EU passports. Guides can get by with UK working holiday visas. 

Visa details: To work as a guide for a European tour company you'll need to be eligible to work in Britain. Australian citizens aged 18 to 30 can attain a two-year "Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa". See www.british-consulate.org

How much for a beer? Free, if your passengers shout you.

Have you lived and worked in Europe? Where do you think is the best place outside of London? Or should Australians still do "the London thing"?

Email: b.groundwater@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Instagram: instagram.com/bengroundwater

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